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Sunday, August 7, 2011

Qi Sensations and Qigong (Qi Magazine 1994)

Qi Sensations and Qigong
Qi Magazine - Issue 16 (1994) 
by Glenn Gossling

The most important thing about practising Qigong is that it makes you healthy. On the way there are many experiences and feelings to be had. However, some people begin concentrating on the different feelings and this can lead you astray.

Many beginners are often concerned or confused about what to expect from Qigong. Initial experiences can vary quite considerably depending on each individual's condition. Some people are worried when they don't feel anything and some are surprised when they do. Whatever your experiences, the more you practise, the more your body will be conditioned into a 'natural' and healthy condition which will eventually 'normalise' the sensations that you feel.

If you have any doubts or concerns about anything you experience you should obviously discuss it with your teacher or senior students at your class. Being able to get more feedback and advice is one of the main reasons why you should always spend your time seeking out the best teachers rather than working from a book. A teacher can correct your postures and movements, guide you from potential pitfalls or side effects and set your mind at ease when you are worried, a book cannot. Your teacher should always be your first and best source of information, which is why it is important to study with high level teachers, especially when learning internal arts.

It is, however, possible to address some of the more common experiences. First, if you don't experience any Qi sensations - don't worry about it. Not feeling Qi sensations does not mean that you don't have any Qi. It just means that you need to develop sensitivity to your internal energies. Qi is present in every move that you make whether you feel it or not. It has to be or you wouldn't be able to move.

Many people initially experience Qi as a tingling 'pins and needles' sensation. This is mostly the effect of Qi dredging your channels. This sensation can be very powerful when you first start studying Qigong because you may have spent a long time creating these blockages. Not surprisingly, with regular practice this 'pins and needles' sensation can diminish and vanish. This is a good sign, because it means that your channels are becoming clear. The trouble is that people identify the effect of the Qi's action with the Qi itself and become disheartened because they no longer 'feel' it. This sensation should be regarded as the knocking sounds you get in your house plumbing if there are blockages. If you don't run the water there is no sound, and when you do there is. If you run the water enough the blockages clear and you get no more knocking. It is the same with Qigong.

You might have already experienced some heat sensations, feelings of warmth and gentle flow (like warm water) which are also Qi sensations. Eventually you may become so used to the warmth that you forget to notice, after all everyone has warm hands in the winter don't they? You might have attributed the gentle flowing feeling to blood. This is not incorrect but in Chinese terms blood and Qi are integrally linked and cannot be separated. Thus when you feel the flow of blood you are also experiencing Qi. 

As you continue your studies and you practise you will begin to notice these sensations not only strengthen in areas where they are familiar (such as the hands) but also spread to other areas all over the body. With the development of your sensitivity you may notice different sensations at different times of the day, different times of the month and different times of the year. You will feel acu-points opening. You will feel pulses. All of this enriches your practice and enhances your understanding of Qigong because it originates in the direct experience of reality.